Stun grenades and tear gas fired by police at São Paulo anti-govt demonstration
Similar protests in Rio de Janeiro had no major incidents
Published in 05/09/2016 - 09:41 By Elaine Patricia Cruz reports from Agência Brasil* - São Paulo*
A demonstration calling for the ouster of President Michel Temer and direct elections in São Paulo ended in turmoil when the organizers were already winding it up. For no apparent reason, military police began firing tear gas, stunning grenades, and water cannons on protesters who were already beginning to leave Largo da Batata square, the end point of a demonstration that began two hours before on Paulista avenue, a traditional route for demonstrations in São Paulo.
There were rushes and tumult. Eighteen-year-old student Ana Luiza Parra Spinola was with her grandfather Geraldo Spinola, 90. “It's the first time he has been at a protest. We live in the vicinity and came because it was peaceful. They [police] threw bombs, my grandfather has limited mobility,” she complained. According to her, the tumult was started by police. “They want to create the impression that we, protesters, are the bad guys. But they start it all,” she said.
Valdemar Paixão, a 56-year-old tennis instructor was not in the protest, but he had to rush out of the square. “I was at a bar. They began to hurl bombs and tear gas canisters, and my eyes began to burn. I think we need peace for Brazil to advance,” he said.
Organizers said it had been a peaceful demonstration. During the march, black bloc groups that often wear masks and vandalize property were gearing up to attack but were stopped by security guards and social movement members.
The police repression began when demonstration was nearly over. Military police who had monitored the demonstration from a distance decided to cross the square wading through the crowd and were loudly booed. That was when the first stunning grenades were fired, prompting rushes.
The protest organizers used the microphone to urge protesters not to clash with police, but as they spoke grenades were fired towards them.
Despite the turmoil at the end of the demonstration, the organizers said it was a successful demonstration. They estimate about 100,000 people turned out at the protest. Military police have provided no estimates.
No incidents in Rio
In Rio de Janeiro, a group between 7,000 and 10,000 people is estimated by organizers to have marched from Copacabana Palace Hotel to Canecão, a traditional concert hall in south Rio. Military police have not estimated the number of protesters. Posters and slogans called for the ouster of the government and a new presidential election.
Victor Guimarães, one of the protest organizers who is a member of Frente Povo sem Medo (The Fearless People's Front), said calls for direct elections have intensified and set the tone for the protest. According to him, the demands tend to grow stronger in the coming days and spread throughout the country with the Grito dos Excluídos (“Cry of the Excluded”), an annual demonstration staged by social movements and Catholic pastorals on the national Independence Day (Sept. 7).
There were also lawmakers at the protest in Rio, which had no major incidents.
*With additional reporting by Isabela Vieira from Rio de Janeiro.
Translated by Mayra Borges
Fonte: Stun grenades and tear gas fired by police at São Paulo anti-govt demonstration
Edition: Maria Claudia / Olga Bardawil
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